12/12/13 – South Florida Artists Paint the Town Downtown

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (December 12, 2013) — Downtown West Palm Beach is extending its commitment to providing more public art into a unique new venue: the stairwells of a highly visible parking garage. Eight South Florida artists will use the seven-story stairwells in the Evernia Garage as an urban canvas to showcase the essence of the Downtown experience. Work on the mural begins this week as part of the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) public art projects that have created delightful, thought-provoking experiences throughout the Clematis District.


“This imaginative stairwell installation will not only enhance the aesthetic of the Downtown, but also decrease the likelihood of damage by graffiti,” said Raphael Clemente, DDA executive director. “The intent is twofold: to address a maintenance issue in the parking garage and to create public art.”


Each floor of the glass-encased stairwells will be represented by a different South Florida artist, approved by the City of West Palm Beach Parking Division and Art in Public Places Committee.


West Palm Beach artist Eduardo Mendieta, who has other murals displayed around Downtown West Palm Beach, is coordinating the project. In the last year, his work has progressed from mere canvas and paper to large-scale works throughout Downtown. Two of his murals have been commissioned by the DDA. Smaller works can also be seen at Clematis Street businesses, including Respectable Street Café and Lost Weekend.


Mendieta and the DDA gathered a pool of artists who they thought would best capture the essence of the Downtown experience to create the two seven story murals in the Evernia Garage, visible from Dixie Highway and Quadrille Boulevard and Olive Avenue and Evernia Street. Seven artists were chosen to participate:


Jay “Remote” Bellicchi, a Boston native who moved to Miami in 2000, is known for his creative work and use of abstract reflections of urban decay and ‘layered chaos’ juxtaposed with crisp lines and shapes. His work is unplanned and a spontaneous process that is directly influenced by his mental and spiritual state. He uses various materials, including latex, acrylic and aerosol paint, paint markers, graffiti remover, Goo Gone, sandpaper, razor blades and more to create his signature style. Bellicchi has been featured in the Miami Herald, New Times and 944 Magazine. Bellicchi founded and co-managed AltSpace Art Gallery in Coconut Grove, as well as founded GRAFFTOYZ, a graffiti toy company that creates interactive toys and art objects inspired by graffiti art.


Douglas Hoekzema has been leaving his artistic footprint along South Florida since he earned his bachelor of fine arts degree in architecture from Florida Atlantic University. Hoekzema’s talents include architecture, furniture design, sculpting and other fine arts. His latest body of work melds the intricate can techniques of graffiti art and layered abstract forms that sprawl large walls and canvas.


In the last four years, Oscar “Trek Six” Montes has steadily built a reputation as one of the most potent talents on the Miami street art scene through vibrant, near-psychedelic pieces that crackle with rhythm and spirit. More recently, his murals and live paintings at various music venues and concerts throughout Miami have created a rising demand for his work. His latest pieces capture the primal, passionate undercurrents of music from around the world and paintings of dancers ensnared in the transformative rhythm of such musical shamans. Each Montes piece is a vivid web of color and energy given form by the sound and spirit, which inspire the artist, abstracted just enough to suggest a pulse, beat, or point of origin just beyond the five senses.


Cassie “Kazilla” Williams is a young artist originally from New Mexico and will be featured on the fourth floor of the garage. Williams’ style ranges between the street arts and fine arts. Since moving to Florida, her style has evolved into an edgy, colorful clash of those two very different worlds. Whether her art is developed around feminine figures or surreal landscapes, her unabashed use of color create a visual feast for all audiences.


“When the crew first came to survey the project space, we drew our floor numbers out of a hat. I pulled out No. 4, the green level,” said Williams. “I wanted my level to reflect the feel I got from Downtown, so after we left the garage, I walked to a nearby restaurant for a bite to eat and a drink. The Downtown West Palm Beach experience is so authentic and laid back. I never wanted it to end. It was then, in the middle of the conversation among friends that are all artists, that I started to visualize my inspiration for Level Four.”


Ruben Ubiera is a neo-figurative artist, known for his strong use of the graffiti-inspired aesthetic, urban murals, mixed-media pieces and installations, and all created with reclaimed objects and found artifacts. He paints and draws in a style considered Post-graffism, but he prefers to call it urban pop, since he has lived most of his life in urban areas. Much of his inspiration is derived from the interactivity between man and his urban environment. At age of 15, his family moved to the Bronx, where he was heavily influenced by the graffiti art that surrounded him. Ubiera strives in all his work to capture an essential part of his past, his present and his subjects through the use of the line and form. His work includes still life and situational portraiture, but he tends to primarily focus on depicting his immediate urban surroundings and everyday complex human emotions using a strong and expressive line, a vivid graphic color contrast all while adding a mix of youth angst and detailed complexity. All this is executed on found objects, never traditional canvases. Ubiera believes that his work has no frames, much like the everyday art that is developing on the streets.


Virginia “Miss Marvel” Cuellar was born in El Salvador in 1980 and began painting at age 4, utilizing the wildlife and landscapes surrounding her and what was left at the end of the civil war as her subject matter. When she moved to Los Angeles at age 12 she was introduced to the urban art of graffiti, and her humble skills mixed with the urban street art to embrace her style in a new and exciting way. Cuellar now resides in Florida with her family where she continues with her contributions to the arts, showing her love and passion for both Mother Nature and urban art.


Paul Frederick Hughes, also referred to as “PHD,” was a child of a corporate expatriate and spent much of his childhood traveling abroad between Tokyo, Japan; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Stockholm, Sweden. Much of his creative inspiration is drawn from this period in his life. The stark differences in culture gave him an early sense that different cultures and people are not as different as they may seem. Art has always been a first love and passion of his, but he circumvented an arts education to pursue a business degree at the University of Kentucky. Hughes has been painting street murals since before college, but it wasn’t until 2006 that he began to find his voice and began seriously developing his brand. That same year, he incorporated his first company, PHD Design, which was originally a concept for a street wear brand centered on local Florida culture.


“In 2007 I went to ART BASEL to promote my brand (PHD Design) but ended up getting bitten by the art bug instead,” said Hughes. “I did a small mural at the RC Cola Factory for Primary Flight 07 and have been painting murals all over ever since, including helping artist Eduardo Mendieta paint two murals for the NFL Super Bowl in 2012.”


Hughes current work involves invoking a sense of the metaphysical connections that all life shares. He uses geometry as the basis and metaphor to connect all things visually represented in his artwork. The Surreal element of his work is designed to force introspection and questions.


For more information about Downtown West Palm Beach and the Evernia Garage mural, please contact the DDA at (561) 833-8873 or visit westpalmbeachdda.com.


About the Downtown Development Authority
The West Palm Beach DDA is an independent taxing district created in 1967 by a special act of the Florida Legislature. Its mission is to promote and enhance a safe, vibrant Downtown for our residents, businesses and visitors through the strategic development of economic, social and cultural opportunities.